That India skipper Virat Kohli is one of the biggest marketing commodities in the cricket world is no hidden secret. The batting sensation enjoys a cult status among fans from the second-most populous country in the world, making him one of the most sought-after ambassadors and endorsers for leading brands.
Kohli has added another top brand in his ever-growing list of companies he currently endorses. The 29-year-old was unveiled as the first-ever brand ambassador for tech-based cab aggregators, Uber, for the Indian market.
According to Uber India, the move to appoint Kohli as brand ambassador for India is an initiative that is first of its kind by the global giants across the Asia Pacific region.
For his part, the cricketing superstar expressed his delight at joining hands with Uber.
— Uber India (@Uber_India) March 9, 2018
“As a cricketer, I travel a lot and I have personally enjoyed the seamless experience of booking an Uber. It’s great to see how the company is using technology to revolutionise the way people move around cities, and is empowering millions by creating economic opportunities. I am very excited to join hands with a company that is so committed to people and cities they operate in,” he said.
“Uber India’s association with Virat Kohli will lay the foundation for a host of brand-led interventions in 2018. Besides being the face of the brand, Virat will be actively involved in a series of innovative marketing and customer experience initiatives to be rolled out by Uber India,” the company said in a statement.
Kohli currently endorses more than 20 brands including Puma and his brand-value was deemed to be worth more than that of football superstar and Barcelona magician Lionel Messi according to a report by Forbes in 2017. The India skipper was ranked seventh overall in the list of the top branded athletes worldwide by the magazine.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan hit his second successive Twenty20 half-century to help India thrash Bangladesh by six wickets and register their first win in the tri-nation tournament on Thursday.
Chasing 140 for victory, India rode on Dhawan’s 43-ball 55 to achieve their target with eight balls to spare at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium.
India, who won the toss and opted to bowl, gained the upper hand after pacemen Jaydev Unadkat and Vijay Shankar shared five wickets between them to restrict Bangladesh to 139-8.
“I think it was a great performance, something that was expected from us. Right from the start to the end, it was clinical and a complete team effort,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said after the win.
“Bowlers executed plans very well. We kept it simple and got the basics right, which was missing in the first game.”
Dhawan, whose 90 went in vain in India’s opening loss against hosts Sri Lanka on Tuesday, then made sure that his side cruise home, despite initially slumping to 40-2.
Sharma faltered in his second successive outing after chopping a delivery onto his stumps from left-arm paceman Mustafizur Rahman. He made 17.
50th six for Suresh Raina in T20Is. The third Indian to do so after Yuvraj Singh (74) and Rohit Sharma (69)#IndvBan— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) March 8, 2018
Dhawan, hitting five fours and two sixes en route to his sixth T20 fifty, and Suresh Raina, who made 28, put on a crucial 68-run third-wicket stand.
Dhawan finally fell to Taskin Ahmed’s right-arm medium pace in the 17th over but Manish Pandey, 27 not out, carried the team home.
Earlier Bangladesh’s batting faltered with only Liton Das, who top-scored with 34 and Sabbir Rahman, who hit 30 off 26 balls, giving some respectability to the total.
Unadkat claimed three wickets with his left-arm pace while Shankar, who took his first international wicket in Mushfiqur Rahim, returned figures of 2-32.
“We didn’t bat well. We should have scored 30 more runs. We need to find out how to get runs on these kind of wickets,” said Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah.
“One win will boost us and will reflect in our game. Hopefully we’ll get it.”
Bangladesh will next take on Sri Lanka in the third match of the tournament, which is timed to commemorate the host island’s 70 years of independence, on Saturday.
The Indian cricket board on Wednesday sprang a surprise by giving white-ball specialists Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan the top-most contract according to their latest grade system, rewarding them substantially more than Test specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
At a time when Test cricket is struggling to keep pace with T20 that is witnessing an exponential growth, the decision to put India’s Test specialists in the lower category of contracts sends wrong signals to long format players.
It’s a sentiment shared by Pakistan legend Wasim Akram who said cricket boards should always reward Test players more than others.
“Test specialists should (get more). Because that’s the most difficult cricket,” Akram told Sport360 during an event in Dubai announcing his association with online cricket content provider CricInGif.
Akram pointed to the fact that players put their bodies on the line in Test cricket and there has to be a clear reward for those who show discipline to excel in the toughest format.
“That’s where you get hit by bouncers, you get hit on your head, on your fingers as a batsman. Bowlers bowl longer spells.
“That’s where the mindset of those who run cricket boards (matters). They should realise Test cricket is the ultimate and everything else follows,” Akram added.
In the BCCI‘s new contract system, limited-overs regulars Rohit and Shikhar find themselves in the A+ category, which is worth rupees 70 million ($1m).
The overall value of central contracts has risen substantially. Earlier, the highest grade (A) was worth 20 million rupees ($300,000) but now the second highest grade (A) alone carries a retainer of 50 million rupees ($770,000).
Most of India’s Test specialists now find themselves in the new A category. It includes Test spinners Ashwin and Jadeja and batsmen Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay.
For Ashwin, Jadeja, Pujara and Vijay, the value of their contract has jumped from 20 to 50 million rupees. But as a share of the overall pie, they find themselves way behind Rohit and Dhawan, whose contract value has risen from 10 and five million rupees respectively to 70 million rupees.